There was a woman once. She was decent and true. People liked her because of her honesty and her generosity. She always smiled and said “Hello,” and she went out of her way to make sure others were comfortable and happy. There was never a thought in her head that began with herself. She genuinely believed that the well-being of those around her was far more important than her own.
The woman sacrificed her time – and even her health – for the sake of others. Often for complete strangers. She gave of her own property, and she went without so that others could, if only briefly, feel the warmth of kindness and compassion.
Like many of her kind, the woman recognized one – and only one – driving force behind her actions. There was one thing that pushed her to be the person she was. There was one thing that she believed drove her to be kind, caring, and good.
People wondered why she went to such lengths to make sure that others were comfortable and glad. No one understood why she focused all her time and energy and resources on everything but herself. “God is good,” she’d say. “And in all ways that He is good, so must I be.” And that was the only reason she needed. In being like God, she believed that she was pleasing Him. And pleasing Him was the only thing she cared about. She lived her life according to that concept. That pleasing God was the one – and only one – thing that would complete her.
As the woman grew older, she only gave more of herself. Her increasing years, to her, only meant that she was to increasingly give and sacrifice. So she did.
Time passed away and so did nearly everything the woman owned. She gave and gave, and when others tried to give something back, she refused. “The Lord does not ask to be compensated for His goodness,” she’d say. “And so, neither will I.” She sought out the sick, the poor, and the downtrodden, because she knew that they needed her help the most. They had nothing to offer her in return for her actions, and that, to her, was the symbol of true goodness.
Years went steadily by, as years tend to do, and near the end, the woman owned almost nothing. Almost no clothes, no food, and no shelter. She searched for things to give away, to gift to others who needed them more than she did. Some thought it was sad. She struggled and suffered, starving herself in every possible sense. Out of mercy and sorrow, many people offered her the same things she was offering to others. But she didn’t accept. She couldn’t. She chose to live the way she did for a reason, for something she believed in. She lived her life like this, in nothingness, until the day she died.
She died a sickly death because of the life she lived. Her skin hung on her bones like sheets on a clothes line, and wrinkles were carved into her face. She looked ten years older than she was, and, when her time came, she could barely stand. She had taken the problems and ailments of the world around her and put them squarely on her shoulders. They weighed her down so much that her bones creaked like rusty hinges. “The Lord endured suffering for us all,” she’d say. “And in all ways He suffered, so must I.” With this conviction, and despite her discomfort, she died happy, ready to accept the Lord’s embrace that she’d been dreaming of for her entire life. She knew that the life she lived was pleasing to her God, and in that thought, she accepted her death willingly.
The woman was celebrated after she passed. Everyone who knew her knew of the goodness she spread. They said, “If anyone deserves to go to Heaven, it’s her. She did everything she could to please God, and because of that, she is in a better place.” The woman’s legacy was one of joy and peace. There was never a thought about her that wasn’t followed by a smile. Her goodness lived on long after her death.
After she was laid to rest, the woman’s soul passed on. In her earthly life, she was eager to be with God, and as a spirit, she was just the same; she was ready to see and know what her whole life had been dedicated to.
The last prayers were said, and the last flowers were laid. When her soul was prepared, she left.
The woman, as a spirit, came to in a new place. She was ready. Ready to put a face to her faith. Ready to grow in her relationship with goodness. “This is it,” she thought. “This is Heaven.” It was a vast white space with nothing to see or hear. Only blankness. Only noiselessness. But it was peaceful, and that made sense to her.
She waited there for God to come. She knew He would. She knew it was only a matter of time before she realized what her life was truly about. She knew that, in time, she would find the highest good.
She waited, and she waited. In blankness and noiselessness. She waited. Time passed, sliding by. She had no idea how long she’d been there. It felt like weeks. But weeks melded into months. And months into years. And years into empty, unidentifiable time. She sat there, waiting, in blankness and noiselessness. Nothing to see. Nothing to hear. She waited, and she waited.
But nothing ever came.
The woman, who dedicated her entire life to one – and only one – thing, waited for the rest of time. She never closed her eyes, and she never stopped looking. But God, the highest goodness, never appeared.
As she sat there, things started to crumble. The woman, whose faith was stronger than steel, began to question.
What had her whole life been dedicated to? Why had she lived the way she lived? Why did she give and sacrifice and suffer? Why did she bear the problems of those around her? Why did she strive to go without? Why did she strive to be good?
What did she believe in?
Why did she believe it?
Was God real?
As she waited and waited, the woman ran these thoughts through her head over and over again. Her God never came, and she never stopped thinking.
She asked herself those questions more times than was imaginable, and she answered them in many different ways. But after all those questions, and after all those answers, after convincing herself that God isn’t real, then changing her mind, then changing back again, she arrived at one, final question.
Does it matter?